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Monday, 27 May 2013

Is Doctor Who Racist?

Earlier today, I saw this a little online article in "The Telegraph" that has now made me think so much that this post is happening. Here is what the article said:
A new collection of essays analysing the adventures of the Time Lord, titled Doctor Who And Race, suggests that the BBC cult programme is based on outdated attitudes.Several of the 23 contributors to the book claim the failure to cast a black or Asian actor as the Doctor demonstrates an overarching racism. Early versions of the show were also criticised for casting white actors in ethnic roles such as John Bennett, who played a Chinese villain in the storyline The Talons Of Weng- Chiang. Author Amit Gupta, an American professor, even suggests Peter Davison’s cricket loving Doctor harked back to the 'racial and class nostalgia’ of the British Imperialism. There was also criticism of the introduction and Adolf Hitler as a character last year, which was condemned as 'slapstick’, and said did nothing to increase understanding of the Holocaust. Authors also condemned the way primitive cultures were portrayed as 'savages.’ Australian academic Lindy Orthia, who compiled the anthology, concluded: 'The biggest elephant in the room is the problem privately nursed by many fans of loving a TV show when it is thunderingly racist.’ But fans dismiss such criticisms as 'groundless’ and 'ridiculous’. Sebastian Clark, editor of Doctor Who Online, said the show 'embraced rather than divided’. He told the Mail on Sunday: 'I think the suggestion the show is racist is ridiculous.” The BBC said: 'Doctor Who has a strong track record of diverse casting among both regular and guest cast. Freema Agyeman became the first black companion and Noel Clarke starred in a major role for five years [Mickey Smith]. “Reflecting the diversity of the UK is a duty of the BBC, and casting on Doctor Who is colour-blind. It is always about the best actors for the roles.”

This is Ley. These are Ley's opinions, not Seth's, and the first thing I am going to say is about why maybe the Doctor has not been black or Asian. We have to remember that he is an alien. As in, not from Earth. As far as I know, all the Time Lords we have ever seen have been Caucasian. So I would then have to say that the genetics that make someone have dark skin and the genetics that make people look Asian are just not in the Time Lord gene pool.  And, my understanding of the regeneration process is that it recombines the DNA that he has into new combinations, so the codes for "Asian" or "black" are just not in him. If you're going to be do critical of that, you gotta think of the "science" behind regeneration. (As a side note, I would assume that he could regenerate as a female, because that calls for X chromosomes, and males have an X and a Y, so it is possible. And, even if by an accident of genetics [speciffically, Turner's syndrome] when someone only has one X and no additional Y or X, they are female.)

This is what I have to say to the people who wrote those essays.
I do agree that it is strange (and his costume was just plain offensive) that a white guy was cast as an Chinese character, but, come off it. That was years ago.

Yes, it may be that the Fifth Doctor's love of cricket reflects the show's Britishness, but that is like saying that an American show can't have a protagonist that likes baseball or (American) football.

Then, yes, there is the Hitler thing. The article talks about increasing the understanding of the Holocaust, which was obviously a horrible thing, but that was not the point of the episode. I can agree that maybe it was a bit too soon and that "Let's Kill Hitler" may have been a bit politically risqué, but the episode had absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust. See after the "Spoilers" page break for more on that.

When it comes to presenting less developed civilizations as "savages" I think that is totally crazy. On the most part, at least from what I've seen, one of the most undeveloped societies on DW is, in fact, Earth. Most places the Doctor takes his companions are places that make us look like the savages.

I do agree that the Doctor did treat Mickey Smith unfairly. But he would have done the same if Mickey was white, it had to do with the fact that a) Mickey's character was a bit lacking upstairs, which was just a character quirk, not a jab at the intelegence of black people and b) he was Rose's boyfriend and he was jealous of Mickey for that because the Doctor was falling in love with Rose.

As for Martha, the Doctor did treat her a bit odd as well but that has nothing to do with her being black. It has to do with the fact that he just lost Rose and was trying to make Martha be just like Rose and that could never happen simply because Martha is not Rose. And Martha was training to be a doctor, and that means that she is very smart.

As for not casting black people in the show, about 85% of people in the UK are white, and I think that that statistic is fairly represented in the show. Also, it is true that there is not an overwhelming amount of black actors. Most actors are white, statistically speaking, so that does effect casting. I absolutely loved Freema on the show and the character of Mickey was great. I think that the casting at least seems colour-blind, because if it did focus on race I think we would see more minority actors in an effort to fill some sort of imagined quota.

Saying that Doctor Who is racist is not a "groundless" claim but it is "ridiculous". No society on earth is completely colour-blind, and I doubt it ever will be, honestly. DW not casting minority actors reflects a socio-economic problem, not a problem at the BBC. There is clearly ground for the claim to have been made and from their eyes, they are completely right. It is all a question of opinion and I have to say that I was never offended by the show in regards of racial anything (sexism is a different story) and I didn't even think about the show being racist until I saw the article.

Please comment! I want to know what you think!

It was about establishing that Mels is River and planting the seed for the Doctor to be able to use the Teslector to avoid being killed. Not about the Holocaust. You really could have placed that episode anywhere and anywhen and still had the same thing happen.